In an effort to keep the conversation in Groups relevant — not to mention civil — Facebook has been making a strong stand in recent months against posts that violate its content policies. The company has been particularly focused on targeting extremist or abusive content.
To reduce this kind of behavior within Groups, Facebook has been handing down harsh penalties and completely taking down groups in which offensive content has been posted. This is something most can agree is an important step to keeping Groups positive and engaging places, rather than offensive or combative.
However, what seems like a simple and positive step has been anything but for a number of groups that have been targeted by spammers who have been targeting legitimate Groups and posting content that deliberately attempts to get the Group taken down.
Facebook took down a number of Groups — starting on May 13th — that had fallen victim to spammers before realizing what was happening. The issue came to light surrounding the closure of a popular Group on Facebook known as Crossovers Nobody Asked For (CNAF).
As a result, many Group moderators, concerned that they would be the next Group targeted, switched their privacy settings to “Secret” in an effort to make sure they could not be targeted by such an attack.
Facebook is currently working to rectify the situation and reinstate any Groups that were mistakenly taken down, but the crackdown has certainly created a worrisome atmosphere for Facebook Group moderators across the marketing world.
How Does This Affect You?
If you manage a community through Facebook Groups, you’ll need to be especially vigilant as you moderate the content posted within your Group. While Facebook is now aware of the fraudulent scheme, it does not mean that the company will be able to detect if abusive or extremist content is legitimate or the result of a spam post. Beyond stating that it is currently investigating the matter, Facebook hasn’t released any specific information about the attackers themselves.
Make sure you are watching all posts within your Group very closely and remove any offensive posts immediately to avoid having the Group shut down. Immediately report any individuals posting this type of content to Facebook.
If you do choose to change your Group’s settings to “Secret,” do keep in mind that you’ll have to leave it that way for 28 days, making it impossible to find in search and potentially stunting your efforts to grow membership.
You will want to ensure your Group remains in good standing, for any posts that are offensive in nature can easily damage your reputation.
What Does This Mean for the Future?
The most concerning piece of this news is how easy it really is to lose control of a community you’ve spent months, or even years cultivating. Using Facebook Groups as the home of your carefully-crafted and well-maintained community still comes with a level of risk.
This serves as a reminder that you technically don’t own the community if it lives on Facebook; You can be a victim of a malicious attack or get caught up in the indiscriminate backlash when the social network behemoth responds.